News / Edmonton

'Ridiculous and painful': Edmonton Queen owner frustrated by delays

Jay Esterer hoped to have his riverboat restaurant and bar open this summer

The Edmonton Queen Riverboat

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Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

The Edmonton Queen Riverboat

The owner of the Edmonton Queen is waiting in frustration as his plan to open a floating restaurant and bar remains tied up at dock.   

The historic riverboat has sat unused all summer on the North Saskatchewan River while Jay Esterer says he’s been working on certification from various levels of government.

“Everything has been ready to go. I’m just waiting on them,” Esterer told Metro Friday.

“It’s just ridiculous. It’s ridiculous and painful. But I have to follow the process.”

Esterer, a local businessman and race car driver, purchased the 52-metre-long boat in an auction in April 2016 for $553,000.

At the time, he said it was an “impulse buy."

Since then, he said he’s redone the plumbing and electrical work, replaced tanks, heaters, blowers and air conditioners, and done some cosmetic renovations.

“I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on getting it ready for the inspection, lifeboat recertification, all that,” Esterer said.

He hoped to have the boat up and running as a restaurant, bar and private event space this summer, but said he is waiting on the federal government to formally certify it.

“It’s very frustrating,” he said.

“Everyone’s excited about the boat, as individuals. But they always have some rule they need to defer to.”

Transport Canada spokesperson Julie Leroux said in an e-mail, however, that the department last inspected the boat in June 2015 and Esterer “has not requested that Transport Canada inspect the riverboat this season.”

According to Leroux, a “non-pleasure vessel that carries passengers” requires an annual inspection and if all safety regulations are met, Transport Canada will issue an inspection certificate that is valid for one year.

“The onus to request a Transport Canada marine safety inspection rests with the owner or operator of a vessel,” Leroux wrote.

Lisa Sobchyshyn with the city’s sustainable development department confirmed the city is waiting on more documents from Esterer and said the application is complicated because it involves other levels of government.

“Our hands are tied. We can’t do what another jurisdiction is supposed to be doing,” Sobchyshyn said.

“This is not your average application.”

The boat was commissioned in 1996 and was a popular tourist vessel until its previous owners put it up for auction, after low water levels forced it to operate as a stationary restaurant in 2015.

It has a passenger capacity of 385.

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